CAPSTONE: Always Make Them Remember

Before the fame and fortune comes the dues —

By Allison Lozada —

Walking through the tight, dark bar known as the Village Lantern in New York I await a band whose genre of music does not seem to be appropriate for this scene. The bar holds nothing but hipsters who seem to enjoy indie music as opposed to hard, loud metal. For a space so narrow there are about 25-30 people, minding their own business and part taking in their conversations. The girls all look the same: long straight hair, dressy flats, tight pants/leggings, bug eye sun glasses and they all wear the same smile. The men don’t seem any different with their tight jeans either. They are talking about their friends, drinking, and past weekends. While the first band begins to perform, I can still hear people talking, the glasses clinging, and the cheering and grunting of touchdowns. I patiently hover over my $8.00 chicken tenders and check the area out. To the left of me I see nothing but a brick wall all the while the chaos going on to my right. My only entertainment: there are the four flat screens broadcasting college football and the one man at the bar looking nervous wearing a flashy zebra jacket.

Around 10:30 p.m. a loud thunder of drums and guitars filled the space and suddenly everyone stopped talking to look at the small stage that held such big noises. The drummer looking massive and intimidating with his long hair and gauged ears, the singer not cracking a single smile, the chick tuning her bass and both guitarists feeling their guitars. This band slapped everyone in the face and demanded them to wake up and smell the metal.

Doug on the front left, Frank back left, Morgan in middle, front right Mike, back right Roman — PROVIDED BY FACEBOOK

Doug Spuma rips through the ears of everyone intimately sitting close to the stage with their trendy shoes and drinks. As he growls the lyrics of their song, he gives off the mysterious vibe with his black hat and black hoodie. In front of him is Frank Mayhack, who effortlessly plays his guitar and lets his hands run up and down the neck naturally. Morgan Rainville plays her bass that compliments her badass attitude she wears on her face the entire night with her eye brows stressed downward with her nose in the air. At one moment, Frank and Morgan lock eyes in an intense jam session as if they were practicing alone with no one around. Roman Cogliati shreds his guitar as calmly as the blue ocean without the sight of a wave to disrupt its cool energy. Mike Mojnikiewicz’s feet display his awesome usage of double bass. This metal band has left their mark and lived up to their name: Make Them Remember. And they did.

the day will come

where I see the truth

where I see the meaning

of that false statement

Once done with their performance it was obvious they have made new fans. The trendy kids suddenly were cheering for them and you could only hear “WOOO!!” throughout the bar. Even with the crowds’ ears muffled they still clapped and requested and begged for one more song. Alexis Clyburn, 20, Weehawken said, “it [the show] was pretty great… totally worth coming all the way from Weehawken.” As they were finishing up, other spectators who were talking through the first band’s performance shouted for one more Make Them Remember song to be played. One man in particular wearing pants that seemed to cut off his circulation at his waist, and who didn’t seem shy to show off what he had going on below the belt, managed to head bang and tried to get everyone else involved. The crowd then roared with applause and cheering. I also found myself cheering and “wooing” as if I were at my favorite band’s concert.

Heavy metal formed out of a genre of blues-rock and “psychedelia” of the late 1960’s. “In the late 1970’s the New Wave of British Heavy Metal (NWOBHM) made metal very popular (esp. in Europe) with bands like Iron Maiden, Saxon, and Def Leppard,” claims en.citizendium.org. Led Zeppelin inspired other bands to be as heavy as they were. Who can listen to the 10 second, beginning guitar riffs of “Whole Lotta Love” by Zeppelin and not be turned on by just a few simple riffs that do not even introduce the lyrics yet?

The Kinks also contributed into the New Wave invasion with “You Really Got Me”. It is believed that The Kinks were the first to use that “heavy fuzz riff guitar” that is now metal’s signature sound. It was not until the mid-1980s where heavy metal reached its peak. We can give thanks and praise to Steppenwolf for reciting those famous words that made the term “heavy metal” the genre it is today: “I like smoke and lightning/Heavy metal thunder/Racin’ with the wind/And the feelin’ that I’m under.” This is the first time the term “heavy metal” was used in the musical sense and it rocked.

There have been various forms of this genre we call metal. Pop metal, which is “radio friendly”, includes bands like Kiss, Motley Crue, Quiet Riot, Ratt, Twisted Sister. Thrash metal would be the more popular category most people think of. Perfect example of what thrash metal sound like is Metallica: fast and loud. Metallica’s black album was also the first thrash metal album that reached No. 1. Thanks to Metallica and Slayer in the 80s thrash metal became popular. Black metal has a heavy distortion. Venom and Dimmu Borgir fall into that style.

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Some may actually be surprised to know there is some religion in metal and I don’t mean Satanism. Bands such as As I Lay Dying and Demon Hunter are Christian metal bands also known as “white metal.” Their lyrics, although heavy, stay in touch with their religious beliefs. Goth metal is a slower tempo, low toned guitar and the sound is thicker and heavier. The famous Cradle of Filth is goth metal and they aren’t afraid to show it with their skin tight, all black leather clothes, extremely pale complexion, black lipstick and eye liner, and a sight that will send any parent running to the hills. Doom metal consists of bands similar to Black Sabbath. “Black Sabbath defined the darkness off the genre with their satanic lyrics and the macho teen despair of their message,” according to blogcritics.org. Neo-Classical metal is based more on classical music and the more popular band that is associated with the genre is Yngwie Mamsteen.

She assumes that her life with you is a waste

So she ends that happiest days of your life in a split second

Not knowing that second

Was the worst time in your life

At the Village Lantern I meet Mike. He is tall, really tall, standing at a whopping 6’5”. His long, dark, and straight hair was pulled back towards the back of his neck in a ponytail. He was bringing in some equipment. At the time I wasn’t sure if he was part of the band or just someone who was helping them bring the equipment in out of the goodness of his heart. I decided to go to the bathroom before they began playing so I wouldn’t miss anything or be forced to rush out. Going down the stairs I hear something that sounded like an animal screech, to my surprise, it turned out to be a man who’s had one too many drinks and it was only 10:00pm. Once I got back from the hell hole of the bathroom I heard drums doing sound check. As I reached the door I see Mike sitting in this tight little corner with the drum kit. He looked like Mr. Incredible when he was driving his dinky little car and then crushed the corner of his car with his hand: massive, tall, and too big for his own good.

At practice, I finally got to see how big his drum kit actually is. I mentioned to him how small the original drums were that he played at the show. “It takes away so much life out of the parts [songs],” quietly said Mike. Whether it was practicing their songs in Sundance Studio or just goofing around, he played passionately. I couldn’t help but admire his double bass and the way he swung his arms with great ease and free flowing which was compressed at the show. His real talent really got to shine through. Being very mellow and extremely modest brings out the extraordinary capability he holds inside.

I’ve been friends with Frank for about four or five years now. At the time Frank was attending New Jersey City University as a music student. Something about him stuck out and stayed with me because I normally forget new people I meet and I couldn’t forget his face. The day I met him his hair was long and very curly towards the ends. He had his brown hoodie over his head but his hair was too poofy to ignore. His faded green eyes glistened in the sunlight while his ample cheeks were being pushed up by his friendly smile.

I have never heard him play until he was on stage and suddenly, I am looking at a stranger. He was no longer the “guy who plays guitar;” he became a musician. I have always respected his string talents but I finally became impressed by his performance. I’ve heard and watched other friends play guitar but Frank was the first to ever impress me and make me feel like I was in the presence of a future rock star. To say he blew my mind would be an understatement. The best advice he’s ever given me was “practice what you love.”

Through Frank I met Doug. I was playing a very poorly trained match maker between Frank and a girl I knew so I brought her down to Bayonne (where the band is from) to see Frank. When we arrived at the front of 711, near what now is the light rail, Frank and Doug came up in what I believe may have been Doug’s car. I caught a quick glimpse of Doug then. The best and the only image that stayed with me was a picture Frank had sent of Doug. He was wearing a black shirt, tight black pants, a fake mustache and a huge, oversized orange tinted, foam cowboy hat with a little golden star in the center for the “sheriff” effect. Doug also sported a very serious and much focused look with his eye brows intensely clinched towards his nose. He meant business.

When he performed at the Village Lantern he was dressed in all black. Black jeans, black shoes, black hoodie, black hat. The only time you saw any color was when he lifted up his head to face the crowd. For majority of the performance he kept his head down. Only when he gave life to his lyrics, gripped the mic, leaned forward and reminded everyone they were watching metal was when you saw his face. He used what I like to call the Jim Morrison technique (Jim Morrison would sometimes sing with his back towards the audience because he was a hesitant performer).

I met Roman the same day I met Frank. He is an inch taller than Frank standing at 5’7”. I didn’t have much interaction with Roman then until now. I saw him at the show but he didn’t utter a word. I saw him again at practice and noticed he is the quietest of all of them. I finally set up an interview to see how he really is without anyone from the band around. He came in for the interview very calm and very professional. He praised Frank and seemed to consider him one of his best friends despite past occurrences which lead to Roman’s absence from the band. “Sometimes when I needed Frank he wasn’t there and … that hurt me.” Setting their issues aside, Roman optimistically said, “We started to talk again and the chemistry I had with him was like we never stopped talking.”

On stage, this guitarist carries deep concentration and focus when he is playing his guitar. The friendship he and Frank hold blooms when they lock eyes through songs such as False Statements. Other than that, Roman plays in the corner without ever looking at the crowd for a prolonged period. Because he does this it may be easy to lose him in sight but you cannot ignore his shredding skills

The chick, the eye candy, the bassist – Morgan. I officially met Morgan at the second show down at Trenton’s Championship Sports Bar and Grill. Before traveling down for the show, I had met up with Frank at his house first. As Doug alerted Frank he was downstairs, I walked out of Frank’s house and saw Morgan already standing there. She was wearing tight black jeans, grey sneakers, and a purple tight shirt that had buttons down the middle of her top stopping right before too much cleavage can be shown. She also wore a plaid grey coat and her hair was all black except the front which was blonde. She was smoking with her right hand since her left hand was all bandaged up because of an accident that included her puppy and her cat – it was brutal. She’s not a dainty little flower. She wears a “I don’t give a shit if you’re a big guy, I WILL fuck you up” type of attitude. Standing at 6’3” this is the type of girl you do not want to be around during a bar fight. Being the only woman in the band she doesn’t feel out of place. “I talk the same gross nonsense as them,” said Morgan, “I feel like I’m in a nature documentary about guys in their natural habitat.”

In performance, it’ hard to miss the chick bassist and the men in the crowd will agree. As she wears her bad ass attitude, she blends in with the boys but outshines them at the same time because 1. She’s a woman. 2. She’s playing an instrument and 3. She’s got breasts. She is fully aware being the woman in the band she holds a lot of power. “I’m always trying to make some type of connection because [a] connection leads to gigs outside of the Northern Jersey area and more exposure,” keenly said Morgan, “They [connections] just happen to be half drunk that I can easily influence with boobs and dirty words.”

I was told for the longest time

that everything happens for a reason

but I see no reason in what this means

John Blicharz, guitarist for Annunaki, another local Bayonne, New Jersey band and guitarist for Bloodfeast sat down with me for an interview about the music business. I was expecting him to tell me of the fame and fortunes of being in a band and being huge in Germany, (where Annunaki has a cult following). That was not the case. Instead, he went into how “shady” the music business can be. Bloodfeast – another of Blicharz’s bands – has been around since the 80’s. They are recording new material and playing old material, however, they won’t be seeing a dime for performing the old stuff anytime soon. “[Renaissance records] has the rights to the records and [they] won’t give them up so we have new material, we play, but we don’t have CDs to sell. Now that we’re doing shows, [they] are advertising that we’re back and [they] are reaping all the benefits.” John continues to say, “We are making zero money from [the old records]. We get money for performing but as far as records sales, that company gets everything.”

John went on to explain that back then the record company would provide funding in order to record the band’s music, so technically the company owned the music and the band had to pay them back. With record sales and merchandise sales the money flows into the company where it should be broken down evenly. John stated, “You never seem to break even.” Now, if the band breaks up, the record company holds the rights to the music but also cuts any debt the band may still owe. The good thing about this is you no longer owe money. The bad: you just lost all your rights to the music you made. What’s worse, when Bloodfeast began recording new music with another company, Renaissance records started to get money because the cycle of music has started again. The more the name starts to buzz around again the more the name is in demand including any old material, which the previous record company still owns resulting in no pay to the band at all.

What most upcoming bands are unaware of or choose to be oblivious to are the financial demands being in a band can bring. Most people know musicians have royalties that must be paid. While some bands will earn only 15 percent of royalties the remaining 85 will go straight to the record company. However, before the band gets their share of the 15 percent they must pay whatever debt they will have with the record company. Recoupable expenses “are amassed when the label spends money for what most of us would assume is the cost of doing business like artwork and packaging, tour support and video production,” according to freeenterpriseland.com. However, the record company does provides the band with money until the record comes out but before you begin to think that money is free this also becomes a debt. If your music sells a tour may sound great and you may want your label to financially support it. You just bought another debt. If you become big then you must pay back all your debt, keeping in mind if you go platinum, that doesn’t mean you will have enough to pay. Some record labels will spend $400,000.00 to record some videos alone.

As she walks away she turns to

See the massacre she left behind

When will she know when will she care

That this was all for you

After not having too much communication between the band and I for about a week or two, I log into facebook to check up on the band’s page and the their own pages. I come across Frank’s page and he had posted “We had to cancel our next [two] shows and need help getting our equipment back.” I had gone to the source with questions and received answers. About two weeks ago, they have been going through some major hardships involving their studio and equipment. Sundance Studio now holds their instruments hostage. They have fallen behind payments but it appears money isn’t the whole problem implied Roman. “The band [had] problems with band members… so it’s catching up,” adding, “band members coming and going.”

Renting the studio for $450.00/month ($90.00 per member a month) wore down the members. Now they are facing the risk of losing not only a space to practice in but their equipment as well. The band currently owes around $2,000.00 to Sundance Studio by February or the studio will sell their equipment. According to Mike, this isn’t the first time this has happened, “Me, Doug and Frank at the time… we were at our lowest point because we were locked out of the studio for ten months – one year because other band members owed money.” Trouble with money isn’t a new problem within Make Them Remember. In the same interview, Mike also added, “I was always fronting the money for whatever tickets we had to get. I think the first three years of the band if I wasn’t around to, you know, provide the money we wouldn’t have gotten this far as we’ve gotten now.”

Back on November 19, Make Them Remember was allowed to use other bands’ (and friends) instruments to perform. Their plan is to slowly pay the money back. Understanding they need to be heard, I suggested for them to hold a fundraiser, but not all the members felt comfortable doing it. “I don’t want [to] do that… it’s bad enough people are giving us money for our fuck up,” timidly said Frank. Doug agreed as well, “It’s kind of our own faults and shouldn’t be asking for money or help.” They understand they have no other choice but to pay from their own pockets explained Roman. Because of the financial setback it is hard to know when they will be performing again. However they are stepping up to their responsibilities and owning up to their faults. Make Them Remember have a long way to go before people begin hanging up their posters, but as for fans they can count me as one along with those who continue to support them.

You may not always get along, there will always be fights within the band, and money will certainly always be the bump on the road. Music isn’t cheap; fame will continuously come at a cost.